In the past, outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have been mainly connected with healthcare institutions. Recently, however, physicians have been seeing more infections— including skin boils and pneumonia—caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that outbreaks among “players of close-contact sports” are occurring and cites recent cases confirmed by football players and wrestlers. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, MRSA is a concern because antibiotics prescribed only a few years ago typically no longer work.

Health and fitness professionals, especially those who work with sports teams, can help prevent the spread of staphylococcal skin infections by following these tips from the CDC:

  • Cover all wounds. If a wound can’t be covered adequately, consider excluding players with potentially infectious skin lesions from practice or competitions.
  • Encourage good hygiene, including showering and washing with soap after all practices and competitions.
  • Discourage sharing of personal items (clothing or equipment).
  • Establish routine cleaning schedules for shared equipment.
  • Train athletes in first aid for wounds and recognition of wounds that are potentially infected.
  • Encourage athletes to report skin lesions.